Louvre - Paris , Vatican Museum - Rome , the British Museum - London , National Science Museum of Japan - in Tokyo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York , the Museo del Prado - Madrid , the Guggenheim Museum - Bilbao , The State Hermitage Museum - in St. Petersburg The State Tretyakov Gallery - Moscow , Raikes Muzeum - in Amsterdam . There is hardly a proper tourist, who would miss a chance to visit those places.
In recent years, there is more and more talk about the educational role of museums and their importance in the development of cultural tourism. The leading museums of the world are a desired destination for many. Our museums are also in demand, however they could be attracting more visitors. Uzbekistan Today set to figure out what it requires.
Uzbekistan has a vast and diverse number of museums. There are 96 museums under the Ministry of Culture and Sport. There are 27 historical museums, 28 local history, 11 art, 8 literature, 14 memorial, 1 Museum of Nature, 7 museums of literature 3 museum-conservatories. There are museums under the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Arts and other ministries and departments of large enterprises. There are new museums, for example, the Polytechnic Museum opened just before the New Year. It is a project run by "Uzavtosanoat", the company that united local car manufacturers.
“Our museums reflect almost all the historical and cultural heritage of Uzbekistan, ranging from the ancient historic monuments to the present day,” said deputy director of the Gallery of Fine Arts of Uzbekistan, Dr. Kamola Akilova. “Our collections are interesting, because of the country's geographical location - in the heart of Central Asia, on the transcontinental routes of the Silk Road. This territory was the "heart" of the intersection of different nations, religious beliefs, cultures, synthesizing the achievements of the West and the East.”
It is worth noting, that cultural artifacts found on the territory of Uzbekistan are now part of collections in museums of Russia, Germany, Britain, France, the United States and other countries. There is a high foreign interest in the collections of Uzbek museums. The museums take part in exhibitions in other countries, as part of an exchange between museums.
However, while touring the country such major museums as the Museum of History of Uzbekistan, Termez Archaeological Museum, the State Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan, Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art named after Savitsky, some local history and regional history museums, fail to attract suffient amount of visitors. The museums of the capital, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and other tourist centers of Uzbekistan, as well as its archaeological sites are mainly visited by foreign tourists, as these treasures of world heritage included in tourist routes.
Museums were revived due to the government's decision, according to which on certain days students can visit museums free of charge. It increased attendance of our museums dramatically. However, several unanswered questions remain. Do the visitors return to the museum? What impressions do they take with them? The working population is not visiting museums anymore. Occasionally in the halls you can see grandparents, walking with grandchildren. Why are we no longer interested in museums? Why museums are content with what they have, in terms of visitors ?
I could not find a single director who complained about the decline in attendance. All of them deftly appealed to statistics and wishful thinking, and it was hard to argue with them. But why, dear directors, we only see messages about the opening of solo exhibitions of artists and less thematic exhibitions dedicated to a particular event. The most often featured exhibition grounds are the Academy of Fine Arts, Art Gallery of Uzbekistan, Museum of Fine Arts of Uzbekistan. The situation is not better in the regional museums. We want to hear, see and read about your new projects, updates expositions, unique promotions , watch virtual tours on the official websites. It is time to change your approach and borrow from the experience of foreign colleagues. The sooner this happens, the sooner people will be pulled into a museum.
The introduction of advanced foreign experience will help museums attract new visitors! Dr. Kamola Akilova agrees with this opinion. She studied the experience of museums in many countries. She willingly shared her vision to attract new visitors to the museums.
The expert notes that the time when the exposition of museums did not undergo any changes for decades has long passed. Permanent exhibitions need to be updated freakquently and more temporary exhibitions need to be organized. Our museums need more diverse thematic projects, and events.
“Core fund of the Ministry of Culture and Sports today has almost 1.5 million artifacts out of which only 110 thousand are exhibited,” says Kamola Akilova. “So, our museums have something to work with and they can surprise us.”
Today, every museum has a catalogue, but they have to diversify in terms of thematic content, expand the geography of distribution. Our museums are still poorly represented online, we need to fill their websites with information and expand the ways of presenting information. Arts critic notes with regret, that there is still no virtual tour on the websites of any of the national museums.
We should keep up the pace of work to improve the educational level of all the guides and museum workers. They must not only speak a foreign language and be able to talk about the interesting collection, but also be creative in terms of presenting the material using modern technology. We need more PR and advertising. How often do we see a truly eye-catching banners on walls of galleries and museums? Does it make sense to reconsider the approaches to attract corporate visitors to the museum? Definitely, yes.
It has long become part of the museum management to open cafes, restaurants, bookshops and souvenir kiosks, educational programs. We need to actively develop this area and offer more and more services. Visitors will enjoy their coffee, but also enrich spiritually. However, Kamola Akilova notes that the development of museums is not wholly on the shoulders of museum workers. Touristic organizations can help solving these issues by including museums on the tourist routes. But back to the same, the museums must be prepared to offer a competitive product and service.
Shall we visit a museum tomorrow? Time will show.